‘This isn’t the dream job, but it is a good paycheck.’ Ralph had that thought every day he produced a show on Shop ‘til You Drop, the nation’s 7th largest televised shopping channel. His advanced degrees in TV had landed him a paid internship at Disney Productions. Unfortunately, his problem with beer and pot lost that gig pretty quickly and earned him a reputation as undependable.
The host he was working with, Harriet (Harry) Martin, had a similar story. She had been the number one selling host on one of the nation’s largest shopping channels in the country. The pressure to make higher and higher sales goals eventually caused her to have a nervous breakdown. In and of itself, that would have been okay, Maybe a little time off for R&R, a short stint in rehab and low level tranquilizers to keep her on an even keel.
But the fact that she had the breakdown during a live broadcast made it a very big deal. Especially since she stripped to the waist and fondled her breasts while singing the national anthem. Harry always thought that they should have fired the TV crew who kept the show live while she was doing her mammary meltdown. Sadly, her employer didn’t see it that way.
She was lucky to land the gig at Shop ‘til You Drop. All the other channels viewed her as too risky to be on a live national TV broadcast. Here she was a fairly well-paid big host on a little channel. Her sales numbers were great and the self-prescribed opioids she took, which were getting more and more difficult to procure, kept her from repeating the topless dance.
“Harry,” tell the story about your grandmother giving you your first piece of real jewelry,” Ralph said in her IFB, the tiny receiver that hosts wore to stay in touch with the production crew. “Your sales on this ring are slowing down,” he continued. The computer screen in front of him showed that only 2 of the $700.00 turquoise rings had sold in the past 5 minutes.
Harry trusted Ralph. They had a brief fling when she first got to the channel and remained friends. She adjusted her sales pitch. “Imagine giving this to someone who’s dear to you, a child, grandchild or niece as their first piece of real jewelry. Think of the memories you’re creating!” As she continued her story, the sales of the ring began to increase. After a couple of minutes of what everyone called her “Imagine this” sell, they had sold all 40 of the rings that were in stock. “Throw to a break, Harry.”
Once she was sure the cameras and microphone were off, she started to speak, “I can’t believe we bought that piece of shit Sterling Silver, turquoise ring. It’s not even a real stone. It’s that fucking shit they grind up and put back together with marine-resin epoxy!”
“Easy Harry,” Ralph warned in her earpiece. “Remember, act like your mic is always on!”
“So a TV crew can fuck me again?” She snapped back. But she did stop the obscenities and her negative rant about the ring. Since Shop ‘til You Drop was a cable and satellite-only channel, Ralph was worried about offending their viewers. A cable and satellite-only channel did not have to worry about fines for profanity and obscenity like over-the-air broadcast stations. Their content was not regulated by the FCC.
Satisfied she was done denigrating the product, Ralph continued in her ear. “Big meeting after you get off the air today. All the hosts will be there. Must be a big deal, they’re going to run a pre-recorded show so everyone can attend.
The channel had lots of meetings. Vendors would come in to update the hosts and producers on the latest products. Sometimes a poorly received sales expert would come in and talk to the hosts about new sales techniques. Management never realized that most TV shopping hosts would only listen to someone who had sold products on television. They viewed anyone else as an uninformed outsider.
The meeting room at Shop ‘til You Drop had, at one time, been an elegant conference room for the computer company that previously occupied the building. Now, it was a coffee stained mess with carpet that smelled like caffeine, hairspray and shame. Most of the employees knew the channel’s sales had been declining for almost 2 years. Even Harry’s impressive numbers were trending down. The Internet reigned supreme these days. Even though they had a retail website, their channel wasn’t popular enough to drive many customers to it.
“What, no donuts?” Mike Severin asked. He was the oldest male host and was cinched in so tightly that, if his Spanx ever gave way, the resulting explosion would most likely injure anyone within a ten-foot radius. “How fucking cheap!” he continued.
“Alright Mike, settle down. You need another donut like this channel needs another black onyx and silver ring!” said Tom Moloney, the channel’s General Manager. Everyone laughed, they knew what he meant. A few years back, a buyer accepted a bribe from a jewelry manufacturer and bought 500,000 of the most unattractive silver and onyx rings anyone had seen. Since the vendor was just some guy in a back alley with a truck full of ugly jewelry, there was no returning the item. It took the channel well over a year, selling it almost every hour of every day, to get rid of the inventory.
At least they did fire the buyer, who then turned around and sued them for “age discrimination.” They were forced to pay a huge settlement that their insurance company denied. The channel’s finances had been in bad shape since then.
“Alright, lack of donuts aside,” Tom continued, “It’s no secret that we’re in trouble, with a capital T…”
“Oh for crap’s sake,” Harry shouted. Spare us the Music Man diatribe. That got old years ago!”
“Okay, Harry, I’ll cut to the chase! We’re changing direction!”
The hosts and producers let out an almost simultaneous groan. Shop ‘til You Drop had ‘changed directions’ several times in the past few years. First, they went hard sell. Then a soft neighborly approach. They also tried paying third and fourth tier celebrity guests to banter with the hosts. All of these and more failed, with the ‘celebrity-palooza,’ as the hosts called it, being the largest failure of all.
“Okay, settle down!” Tom snapped! “This is different.” That elicited an even larger groan, but Tom continued. “We’re going to totally change our product mix and even the network name.” He took a box from the floor and put it on top of the conference. “Starting tomorrow, we’re no longer Shop ‘til You Drop. Our new name is The Pleasure Shop.
The response was almost in unison, “The Pleasure Shop?”
“That’s our new name,” Tom replied.
Harry stood up, “Will the last person out of the building please turn off the lights,” she chimed in.
“Alright, just sit down!” It was the first time Ralph spoke during the meeting. “Give Tom a chance to explain what’s happening.”
“The secret to our new success is right in this box,” Tom said in a very excited voice. “Pass the box around! Everybody take one product and check out your keys to success.”
Tom was the first to explore the contents of the box. He pulled out a small rectangular object. He examined it carefully, finally turning it on using the switch on the bottom. Immediately, a tongue-shaped object emerged from the side and began a simulated licking motion. “Oh dear God!” he shouted as he dropped the licking machine on the table. The simulated tongue continued to lick. “What the fuck…”
“The Cunnilingus 3000. No better licker on the market!” Tom proudly announced.
Harry grabbed the box and pulled out a fake penis that was big enough to make Ron Jeremy blush. “I knew this guy. He was so big every time he got a hard-on, he passed out from lack of blood to the brain.” The other hosts laughed nervously. “What’s this switch do?” she asked as she turned it on. “No!!!” she screamed as it began to vibrate and shoot white goo all over the table, not unlike a pornographic Super Soaker.
“The John Holmes 2.0,” Tom stated. “It vibrates at 600 rpm and can ejaculate any viscous substance. That one is loaded with vanilla pudding. Better tasting that sticky semen.”
“How would you know?” barked Mike.
“Who the hell loaded that, Bill Cosby” asked Harry.
Several other hosts removed items from the box, including a bottle of Penis Enhancement Pills, scented massage oils, a couple of box sets of pornographic films along with other adult items.
“Something for everybody!” Tom proudly announced.
“Yeah, if you’re just getting out of the sex addiction clinic,” Harry quipped.
“If you think I’m selling this shit, you’re stupider than I thought,” Mike added.
“Okay,” replied Tom. “No one has to sell any of this. You can always quit. Remember, this is a right to work state. We can fire you for wearing the wrong socks.”
Mike sat back in his chair and reminded himself how much he needed this gig. He was lucky anyone in TV hired him after he got several young women pregnant on a teenage panel show he hosted.
Ralph stood up. “Tom’s been talking to all of the producers about this for quite some time. It’s pretty clear that we can’t compete with the big boys, but this is a niche market that’s not served by any of them. One of them has a once-a-month, special show with a rather tame group of sex products and I hear they’re doing pretty well. We’re taking it to the next level. No more cubic zirconia, no more endless bedding sets, no more cheesy fashion. We’ll stand apart from everyone!”
“Yeah, we’ll stand in jail,” Tom added.
Tom replied, “Not at all.” We’re cable and satellite only. The FCC can’t touch us.”
“We’ll lose a lot of our cable subscribers in the Bible Belt,” Harry snipped.
“We’ll make up for it in volume. People love sex. Sure, there are adult stores all over, but most people wouldn’t be caught dead walking into one. And when they do, who wants to walk around and look at sex products someplace where you stick to the floor. Now, you can buy your adult goodies from the privacy and safety of your own home.”
“Any guests?” asked Harry.
“Not for the easy stuff, vibrators and that the Cunnilingus machines. When we get to the medical stuff, herbal horny and boner pills, we’ll have a doctor, maybe a chiropractor.
“Cunnilingus machines? Plural? There’s more than 1?” Harry asked.
“One for every size and shape hole. There’s even an anal licker. Might even be able to get a few porn stars for the movie collections. Get them to reenact a few scenes…”
“Okay, stop! Michael ordered. “I’m not in favor of this.”
“You don’t get a vote.” Outside of you and Harry, I didn’t hear any objections,” Tom said.
“There all kids with mountains of student loan debt. How about you, Betty? Do you have a problem with this?
Betty Simmons was a 20-something Southern Belle. A failed Miss Arkansas, she was their expert on hair care and makeup. “I’m just trying to take this all in,” she said. “And by the looks of things, I have a lot to catch up with. I thought my Cunnilingus 2000 was the latest model,”
The rest of the hosts laughed, albeit nervously.
“See!” Tom exclaimed, “Everyone loves sex. We’re going to do great. Everyone take a product home and get familiar with it. We debut at 8 AM tomorrow.
With that, Betty lunged for the Cunnilingus 3000, Mike took a bottle of penis enlargement pills, “Just to show them to my doctor,” he assured everyone. Harry didn’t take a product and waited until everyone was out of the room before she popped two oxycotin pills that she chewed and swallowed as she left the room.
It was a few minutes before 8 AM. Harry was looking at the John Holmes 2.0 on the table. She carefully picked it up, avoiding the off-on switch. “I’ll talk about it, but I’m not touching it,” she noted.
“That’s okay,” replied Ralph. “You should be flattered that you were chosen as the first host for The Pleasure Shop. I’m honored to be their first line producer.”
“One minute to air!” The voice bellowed out from a speaker on the wall.
Harry took a deep breath. She’d already had 4 oxycotin pills this morning, usually limiting herself to 2. “I can do this,” she thought. “It will be historic,” she thought. “This might even put me back on top.” There’ll be lots of publicity, I’m sure.”
“And you’re on!” Ralph snapped in her earpiece.
“Hello, and welcome to a new concept in televised shopping. We are The Pleasure Shop, a channel devoted to your sexual pleasure and satisfaction. We’ll be live 24 hours a day, showing you the latest in adult toys, sexual aids, films, herbal supplements and everything else you need to feel complete in the bedroom.”
With that, she pointed at the large penis-shaped vibrator on the table. “Ladies, have you always wanted a really big one?”
“You can say penis,” Ralph barked in her ear.
Harry continued, “Now you can have one exactly like you’ve always wanted. Just look at this,” she said, again pointing at but not touching it. “And this one even vibrates!” She carefully turned it on. The unit had a powerful motor and began to vibrate off the table. Harry quickly grabbed it, accidentally hitting the ejaculation switch. As she held it in her hand, it began to squirt vanilla pudding all over her outfit.
“Not again!” Harry shouted as the fake cum from the John Holmes 2.0 began to hit her face. “No, no no!” she screamed as her face was being covered by the fake sperm.
With all the excitement heightening the effects of the oxycotin, Harry began to lose consciousness. “This won’t happen again,” she thought to herself. “Maybe if I got some food in my stomach. Realizing that her face was covered with vanilla pudding, she began to lick it off her face and swallow it, smearing more into her mouth with her hand.
“Yes, yes!” She screamed. “More!” not realizing what the on-air scene looked and sounded like.
Ralph got into her IFB. “You didn’t sell anything for the first couple of minutes, but keep doing what you’re doing, we’ve sold 200 of these and the phones are really backed up. Urge people to use automated ordering!”
As the effects of food in her stomach were quieting her panic attack, Harry realized what she was doing. She had two choices. One was stopping, apologizing and walking off camera. The other was to continue to simulate fellatio.
She chose the latter. “Oh yes, baby, oh, you taste so good, I want to eat all of you!”
She continued with this until Ralph got into her ear one more time. “Okay, Harry, tune it down a notch and come in for a landing, the Cunnilingus 3000 is next!”
“Good thing I shaved this morning,” she thought.
Bottom line: 3,800 John Holmes 2.0’s sold in 12 minutes. At “129.99 each, the total was $493,962. Up until then, Shop ‘til You Drop had not even sold that much in a day. A new industry was born!
Will The Pleasure Shop continue to be so successful? Can the other hosts equal or even top Harry’s sales technique? Will Harry’s newfound persona help her to kick the oxycotin habit or make it worse? How about Mike? Will he fit in? Now that the money is coming in, will there be donuts? How many Bible Belt cable systems will the company lose because of this new strategy?
These and many other questions will be answered in the next installment of “The Pleasure Shop Chapter 2 – Come Again?” Right here on this blog.
© 2018 Steve Bryant – No portion of this or any blog can be reproduced or copied and posted on any online site or read aloud on any audio or video media without the express permission of the author.